Rich Warren | Microphone suggestions for smartphones

Smartphones compete on camera quality, but manufacturers rarely, if ever, advertise the quality of their microphones.

Engineers optimize smartphones for voice calls. While there are hundreds of wired microphones you can plug into your smartphone, this reader wonders if there’s a wireless Bluetooth option: “I do a lot of Facebook Live videos for the Illinois Tractor Pulling Association and simply use the microphone that is built into the iPhone. If you are more than 6 to 10 feet away from the phone, the audio is horrible. Does anybody manufacture a wireless/Bluetooth microphone that works with an Apple iPhone 6s Plus? If not, do you have any other good ideas to recommend?”

You have two options. There are hundreds of wireless microphones that transmit to their own small receiver, which you clip to your body. Then you connect a wire from the receiver to the phone.

You indicated a preference for a simpler option of a microphone that transmits directly to the phone via Bluetooth. A simple handheld ball mike from Bonak designed for karaoke that also works with phones costs $31 on Amazon.

A new company called Hey Mike! just introduced a compact, high-quality Bluetooth mike designed specifically for smartphones. You can find it for $112 at It sounds like exactly what you’re after.

When shopping for my first car, my father and I looked at a Ford Maverick. Although I didn’t smoke, I wondered why it lacked a cigarette lighter, which was standard in cars those days. My father explained that if the lighter cost Ford a dime, and it sold 100,000 of that model, Ford could pocket an extra $10,000, which in those days wasn’t chump change.

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I frequently see products that leave off a desirable or logical feature because some bean counter suggested it.

For example, the Bose Wave Music System, which remains one of the best-sounding, most-stylish radio-size music systems on the market, still requires setting the time manually.

Most radios and stand-alone clocks now include the ability to automatically set the time from the National Institute of Standards and Technology radio signal. The same radios also can adjust automatically for daylight-saving time.

Similarly, how much would it really cost for stoves, microwaves and all other appliances with clocks to offer automatic time setting? Now that some appliances connect to the internet, they finally automatically set the time. The biggest American joke three decades ago was the flashing “12:00” on a nation of VCRs.

Another reader asked about a new Comcast facility at 506 W. Anthony Drive in Champaign. This does not replace the Comcast showroom in the Market Place Mall. The Anthony Drive facility replaces the Fairlawn location in Urbana.

A Comcast representative said: “The Anthony Drive location will serve as a hub for technicians, who do installations and repair work for Champaign-Urbana area residential and business customers. It also will serve as a warehouse for cable boxes, modems and a host of other equipment for customers.”

Comcast noticeably cleaned up its act over the past decade. The most complaints to this column once came from Comcast subscribers. In the past couple of years, we’ve received no complaints.

In fact, here’s a compliment to Comcast from a reader: “You may want to update your article that the XfinityStream Beta App is available on Roku, and you can watch all Comcast channels for no charge in an internet-only streaming format. The OnDemand of Xfinity on the Roku is fantastic on a 4K TV as the 4K version of Roku upconverts the image. I hooked my son up with a Roku 4K Ultra on his 4K TV. Also, as an Xfinity subscriber, you can use HBO GO and Showtime Anytime apps and pull content direct from the source as well if you subscribe to those services as well.”

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Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. Email him at



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